As you can imagine, responses to the letter containing allegations of abuse in Rigpa varied widely. Some expressed anger that the behavior of their teacher could ever be questioned and faulted the 8 signers. Others felt relieved this information had finally come to light. And still others said they’re were slowly progressing through the five classic stages of grief as defined by Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Following is just a small sampling of the many affirmative responses to the letter. The intention behind sharing them is to help others feel less alone, especially if you feel conflicted or in pain. Hopefully, these words will also help arouse compassion for the genuine suffering that has occurred.
Many felt and continue to feel deep gratitude for all they have received from Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa, as expressed in this response.
“I too have been moving through grief and groundlessness. My heart goes out to our dharma friends who have bravely and painfully come forward, and I thank you. I find the weight and volume of your assertions simply too hard to ignore, and I find myself erring profoundly in any belief that such behaviour on the part of the teacher could be enlightened. It is extremely distressing and disappointing. If the behaviour is in fact ‘crazy wisdom’, then teacher, please forgive me, I am not cut out for this path.
I have put my two cents worth in here as I want to acknowledge and thank those who have come forward, some of whom I know, some not. I will now be interested to hear what the response is at various formal and informal levels from fellow students, the organisation and from the teacher.
Thank you, teacher, for the priceless gifts you have given me. And thank you to all those in the organisation who have brought benefit. If these allegations are true then I am mystified as to how they can be reconciled as enlightened or beneficial actions. If they are not true, then what motivates a sum total of individuals such as yourselves to act/communicate to such lengths? Are you disaffected students, Chinese spies? The scale of your assertions does not add up for me to see them as entirely false, or to interpret the asserted actions as ‘crazy wisdom’. I have to concord with your open letter to the DM: Lama, please explain! These assertions raise the utmost level of seriousness on so many levels, and healing is required.”
And so many felt relieved.
“I feel very relieved that it is all out in the open now. My heart and body feel much lighter and for the first time I feel hopeful that my body might actually recover at last. It’s been holding silent witness to so much for so long… I also feel very deeply for everyone who is coming to learn about this perhaps for the first time and is very likely in shock, denial, grief, etc. Holding everyone strongly that this can be processed healthily, sanely and in a safe manner.”
“It’s refreshing to hear people express what’s in their hearts, and, I feel a tremendous sense of relief following the sangha care letter, that things are in the open – at least among DzM students. I feel lighter and so refreshed by the possibility of dialogue, sharing care and support and most importantly freedom for all to examine and to express our understanding and insights.”
Others felt affirmed.
“Thank you so much for speaking your truth! I’m so deeply grateful for it. I saw bits and pieces of this happening from the periphery and felt crazy inside about whether I was seeing abuse or why I wasn’t pure enough to accept the wrathful Terton’s crazy wisdom methods. I’ve been wrestling with this for ten years. Stepping back, missing my Sangha, stepping back in, feeling shocked… Repeat.
And mostly I am so sorry that you had to endure all of this in such an up close way. It breaks my heart that my treasured Sangha endured all of this so that I could receive the teachings. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your honesty, courage and intelligence. The letter is outstanding and very clear.
Please know that your time and pain was not wasted. I learned so much from you, and continue to do so.”
And still others felt supported.
“The support material cited in The Letter was so very helpful. When I left Rigpa 3 years ago in outrage and anger, there was no support whatsoever – just a gaping hole where once there was companionship, community, faith, belief and purpose. If I had had that material at the time, it would have been so much easier.
As it turned out, after a year of intense psychotherapy, I managed to regain some sort of equilibrium, but was still distressed that nearly everyone I had considered to be friends at Rigpa had deserted me. Now I can only hope their eyes are opened a bit and that I can provide support for those who have the inclination and guts to leave.
Heartfelt thanks to the signatories of The Letter and whoever it is/was who kindly put me on the list to receive it. It would be helpful to know who you are, in case I have the opportunity to speak with you in person. Your courage is extraordinary.”
Whether you believe the teacher’s behavior is enlightened activity or abuse, these words show that good-hearted, deeply devoted people are struggling and in pain. While it might be easy to categorize them as troublemakers, malcontents, or eccentrics, hopefully their words show otherwise. Their statements also illustrate that the issues at hand impact many more than a small number of students.
Note: Comments used with the authors’ permission.
We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
More personal and private support for current and previous students of Rigpa can be found in the What Now? Facebook group. Please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite. Include a link to your Facebook profile or the email address you use on Facebook.